1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m spiritual formation director at a Lutheran church, a writer (three books and many freelance articles), an actor, a mom to five grown kids, and “Nana” to Aiden (4) and Peter (18 months). My husband Steve and I started a children’s theatre company 37 years ago, which is still going strong. I performed until even our youngest audiences could see that I was just a bit too old to be Cinderella. Now I am content to work at church, write, cook, travel and spend time with my wonderful family.
2) How has mental illness affected your life?
Mental illness derailed me totally 12 years ago, when I began experiencing extended manic episodes, followed by periods of despair. I managed to keep working and parenting somehow, and used my acting skills to pretend everything was OK, until I just couldn’t go on without professional help. Thanks to the right meds and the right psychiatrist, I got back on track, and during the past several years I have tried to be a voice of support and advocacy for others with mental health challenges.
3) Why did you want to be part of This is My Brave?
I first discovered This is My Brave after I performed in a show last spring called Listen to Your Mother, which had a similar format (people telling their true stories, in that case stories about motherhood). I immediately wanted to be part of the mission of the show, and to help bring it to Philadelphia for the first time. Storytelling is at the heart of what I do, and I know how inspiring stories can be. I truly believe these stories have the power to heal, to enlighten, and to encourage openness about mental health issues, an openness so greatly needed in our society.
4) What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
Steve, Sheridan, Evan, Rose, Patrick, Julie, Ya-Jhu, Aiden, Peter and my sister Carolyn are the ten primary sources of inspiration for me to stay mentally healthy. I am so blessed to have my incredible family, and I want to be there for them for a long, long time to come.
5) What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope that, once we on stage all stop talking, the audience members will START talking, and take these conversations home, to their circles of friends, to their workplaces. This is My Brave is part of a movement that is growing, the movement to de-stigmatize mental illness, and they can be part of it, one honest conversation at a time.
Tickets are on sale NOW! Click the button below to order your tickets to meet Elise and more brave storytellers. This is one mental health performance you won't want to miss!
Please share this post with friends and family in the Philadelphia area. We're all affected by mental health and addiction issues, and the more we can support each other, the easier it will be for people to seek help. This Is My Brave is proof that Storytelling Saves Lives.